Photos by Susan Williams
4:56pm | An incident in Lincoln Park late Tuesday morning led to the arrest of one man and allegations of police brutality.
According to several witnesses, two bicycle-mounted LBPD officers approached George Diller, an Iraq War veteran and recent arrival to Occupy Long Beach, as he sat on the lip of Lincoln Park smoking a cigarette and talking on the telephone. After being informed by officers that he was not allowed to smoke in the park, Diller inquired as to whether he was being cited for his offense, to which officers replied in the affirmative.
As Diller was getting off the phone, Officer Brad Dinsdale is said to have wrenched Diller's arm backwards and forced him to the ground, then placed Diller in a chokehold, which he maintained well after Diller had been handcuffed and rendered unconscious.
Christopher Perkins, a witness to the incident, says Dinsdale struck Diller in the head three times while he was unconscious.
"[Dinsdale] has a history with us," Perkins says. "He does not want us here. He has been abusive in the past. […] This officer has some sort of grudge against us."
Another witness, Susan Williams -- who snapped several photographs of the incident -- called the "attack" on Diller "absolutely unprovoked. […] He did not attempt any type of resistance."
Perkins concurs, saying that Diller repeatedly told police, "There's no reason to do this! I'm not resisting!"
Daniel Franklin, who was also present, says that Officer Dinsdale maintained his chokehold on Diller for 30 seconds after Diller had lost consciousness, with onlookers exhorting officers (including the half-dozen who had arrived as backup) to attend to Diller's condition.
According to Franklin, when Diller regained consciousness, he asked the officers, "Is this how you treat your veterans?"
St. Mary Medical Center has confirmed to the Long Beach Post that Diller was briefly admitted Tuesday for undisclosed reasons, then released back into police custody.
Diller was booked by the LBPD at 1:35 p.m. for California Penal Code 69, commonly referred to as "obstructing or resisting," as well as for violating Long Beach's ban on smoking in public parks.
As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Diller remained in police custody, being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Members of Occupy Long Beach, including Perkins, expressed their distress about Diller's treatment by police during the open public comment period at Tuesday night's city council meeting. Councilmember Rae Gabelich commented that she had seen Williams's pictures of the incident, "and I was pretty upset at what I saw. [But] what I do want to remind you is that we have to look at things from the perspective of, 'There's more than one side to a story,' okay? [The incident] is under investigation."
Gabelich also referred concerned OLBers to Citizens' Police Compliant Commission (CPCC), "[which] is there for these very reasons. And I hope that you use the tools that are available to you."
Williams has filed a report with the CPCC (with Perkins and Franklin listed as witnesses), citing the use of "excessive force," including (in addition to the above-mentioned) "Officer Dinsdale repeatedly pick[ing] George up and dropp[ing] him while unconscious."
The LBPD declined Long Beach Post requests for comment.